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Finding Outside Editing Help

It is very hard to successfully edit and proofread a cookbook by yourself and we highly recommend you get at least one other person, and preferably 2 or 3, to look at it before you publish it. There are two main ways to elicit outside editing or proofreading: your friends or outside editors.

Note: Before sending your cookbook to an outside source you should always edit your cookbook yourself. This will make it easier on your friends and save you money with outsourcers.

Enlisting Your Friends to Edit

The easiest way to get editing and proofreading help is by turning to your friends or network of fellow bloggers. Many of your friends will be happy to help you out by reading through parts of your cookbook and giving you feedback.

A large caveat. Your friends will go much easier on your work than a professional editor will. They not only usually lack the skills of a professional editor but they will be afraid of hurting your feelings. Friends are much better for broad "this is confusing" type feedback than for nit-picky spelling or grammar mistakes.

You are also more likely to get prompt feedback from your friends if you only ask them to proof a few chapters instead of your entire book. Your friends are just as busy as you are and even though they might be excited about your book, they will have trouble spending hours proofing it for you.

It can also help to ask for very specific feedback from your friends. This will allow them to be more direct with you than they would have been otherwise.

Once they have edited the book, this group of people can also be asked for thoughts on the book that you can use as testimonials, either on the book cover or in the book description. They can also be tapped during your pre-launch to add reviews on Amazon.

Hiring an Outside Editor

Hiring an outside editor will guarantee that you have a professional sounding cookbook with most spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes corrected. A substantive or line editor can help with your sentence structure, continuity and grammar, or you can focus on a copy editor or proofreader to catch the spelling, punctuation and other grammatical mistakes. Here is more information about the types of editing.

There are many ways to find outside editors. You can look on job sites such as eLance or Upwork (Formerly oDesk). The Editorial Freelancers Association has common editing rates listed on their website as well as a member directory where you can find editors. There are also many companies that handle all aspects of the editing process.

Regardless of how you find them, there are a few considerations you should keep in mind before agreeing to work with an editor.


Price is often a big concern for self publishers. You don't need to work with the most expensive editor but going the cheapest route can often mean working with someone of lower quality. Picking an editor priced in the upper-side of the middle range often works well. You can also take a risk on a less-experienced editor if you are trying to save money since they will usually charge less.

Work History

You should always check the work history of an editor you are going to employ. Have they done cookbooks before? How many books have they edited? Are they willing to provide you with names or references for previous work? It's not critical to find a cookbook editor, but someone who specializes in cookbooks can give you more insights than someone who never cooks.

Sample Edits

Most editors will provide you a free "sample edit". This means you send them a few pages or a chapter of your book and they will edit it and send it back. This allows you to see how they work and if their editing style is right for you. It is a very common practice and can save you time and many headaches by avoiding editors that have styles which clash with yours.

Work Process

It's good to learn how they handle the editing process. Will you get everything back at once or a chapter at a time? How long do they anticipate it to take? What file formats do they prefer? How will they communicate with you? Also double check what type of editor they are - you don't want to hire a substantive editor when all you wanted was a proofreader.

Your Personal Preferences

There are many nuances in grammar and cookbook writing that can go either way. Do you prefer to use "tablespoon" or "tbsp." or "T" in your recipes? Do you prefer "chile pepper" or "chili pepper"? If you feel strongly, let them know ahead of time so they don't erroneously mark up your book.

Once you get back your cookbook, always make sure you do a self edit or proofread before publishing it to ensure they didn't mess anything up or make any decisions you don't agree with.